A recent editorial from The Press-Enterprise about California’s proposed penny-per-ounce soda tax states: “good intentions do not justify bad policy.”
At Sip & Savor, we’ve written before about how soda taxes are bad policy – they’re bad for business, unpopular with voters and ineffective. Even if they are shrouded in “good” intentions, such as obesity prevention, soda taxes are simply bad policy. The editorial explains further:
“Too often, government ignores the role of personal responsibility in making better choices. A soda tax will not lead Californians to suddenly embrace better diets, more exercise and other healthy conduct.
In fact, SB 622 would be much better at raising money than changing behavior. A University of Illinois review last year of research on how food and beverage taxes affect public health suggested that while taxes may reduce consumption, they result in little, if any, effect on people’s weight.
…Nor would SB 622 be much more successful as fiscal policy. Enacting a new tax and earmarking the money would only further complicate state budgeting. California already has too many taxes dedicated to specific programs, regardless of the larger budget picture. That approach obstructs any rational allocation of tax proceeds, by ensuring that tax money flows to pet programs with no consideration of whether those are the most crucial public services.”
Sounds like all-around bad policy to us. And we’re not the only ones who think so. In fact, over the past several years, about 30 cities or states, including two cities in California last November, proposed a tax on soft drinks. All have failed. Just last week, another Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll confirmed that the public simply does not support soda taxes, nor do they believe such a tax would effectively combat obesity. Taxes just don’t make people healthier.
Needless to say, we agree with The Press-Enterprise’s assessment that “simplistic solutions and muddled policy will not shrink Californians’ waistlines.” That’s why our industry is playing a role in solving the complex issue of obesity through comprehensive initiatives. Through industry innovation, average beverage calories per serving have been reduced 23 percent since 1998 and our member companies offer an ever increasing array of low- and no-calorie beverage options. With Clear on Calories, clear calorie labels are at the consumer’s fingertips. And with our national School Beverage Guidelines, beverage calories shipped to schools declined by 90 percent between 2004 and the end of the 2009-2010 school year. These are real efforts with meaningful results. To learn more about how we’re delivering for you, visit: DeliveringChoices.org